May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (verses 5-6)
These are life verses for me. When Sarah and I were falling in love, these verses spoke to us about a focus for our relationship. They are inscribed on our wedding rings. Together with Psalm 34:3 (“Glorify the Lord with me; Let us exalt his name together”) they were the scriptural basis for our wedding.
They speak about coming together, with heart and voice, for the purpose of glorifying our God, in Jesus Christ his Son. The chief end of man, as the catechism says, is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That’s what this is about.
If these verses speak deeply to us as a couple, how much more so to the whole church for whom they were penned. Several points stand out:
(1) God himself is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, in this process. He is the initiator and source. He is the goal. He gives the resources and he himself is the end point. The whole of life gets reoriented here. If life is a journey, he is the destination, the fuel in the tank, the roadmap, the rest-stops – everything!
(2) Endurance and encouragement are such a winning – and necessary – combination. The calling here is life-long. There is every possibility for the pace to flag, impediments to arise, and distractions to pull us off-centre. How thankful I am that our God sustains with these two. How father-like they are. There will be moments of hard discipline along the way – this, too, comes from the Father’s love. But praise his name – he leads with endurance and encouragement.
(3) Unity is crucial in the process. It implies community, acknowledging that tensions and misunderstandings easily arise, whether in a marriage or in a church. Oh, how easily. Brokenness needs to be addressed, forgiveness extended and received, patience embraced, and humility adopted for each successive step. And when such unity seems unattainable, we again lean into the fact that God himself is the source.
(4) Of all the goals we could set for ourselves, this goal is most foundational: glorify God. With one heart and mouth we are called to it. Lifting voices in praise and worship. Giving energy to acts of obedience. Living deeply in the unity that sustains praise, but also giving it tangible expression.
May “the God-who-gives” do it in us. May we make choices each day to commit ourselves to the goal.
Dear God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – work in me today in such a way that I receive your endurance and encouragement, embrace the unity to which you call me, and engage my life for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reflect: Is there any relationship (with an individual or group) in which you need to renew unity? What steps can you take? Pray about it. Step into it.